Windows Hosting versus Linux Hosting

The matter of choosing between the operating system (OS) running the web server hosting your web site as old as the web hosting business. The OS controls all the functions of the web server hosting your site, so it comes naturally to pay special attention when choosing one over another. But what are really the options you have?

Mainly you can choose between web hosting based on Windows, Linux or Unix operating systems. A brief description and analysis of the different systems will narrow the list of options to only two.

Microsoft's Windows server operating systems (NT/2000/2003) have a rather friendly and familiar user interface, making IT teams to easier in this aspect. Another plus is given by it's excellent integration capabilities with other applications developed by Microsoft and let's face it their range is absolutely impressive. The main key point of Windows based hosting is its support for .ASP (Active Server Pages) or the advanced ASP.NET. This language for web development was created by Microsoft to facilitate the creation of dynamic web pages linked to SQL databases. It also provides capabilities for integration with other systems.

It can be said that Unix is the OS that powered the beginning of the Internet era and due to his qualities is still used today. Linux OS was developed having Unix as starting point and this is how the two share many features. Today the Linux version of the Unix system is more common on web servers and this has to do with the higher licensing costs and with the rather specific hardware requirements for Unix. This is why we will continue with Linux only, but Unix is taken into account as well. Linux hosting has its strong points in fulfilling one's requirements for a good web server and Web serving, file serving, mailing, and streaming are only a few. It proves itself is a very cost-effective choice from using hardware efficiently, and allowing an increased web sites per server ratio, this ultimately resulting in a decreasing the cost of hosting per account.

So here are our two choices Windows and Linux.

Reliability

In the past Linux OS were seen as more reliable over Windows. However with the release of Windows 2003 server Microsoft has gone a long way and closed the gap in this area. Linux servers are compatible with certain Microsoft extensions and applications and the same is true for Windows.

Web Programming

Even if trying to host a simple personal web site, your might want add some simple scripts to spice up your pages. The issue gets bigger when you are looking to host an e-commerce site supported by some serious server-side programming. So how are our two contenders doing in this aspect?

Supporting java scripts is not a topic to be argued upon as they are executed on the client side (the user's web browser) and both Linux and Windows have no problem feeding this content to your visitors.

It is a whole different matter when discussing server side scripting. For web site owners trying to implement forms on their site it is common knowledge that ASP is supported by Windows and PHP is the tool to do just that under Linux. However both developed solutions to support each other's programming language for web development. This support is not perfect and its limitations recommend Linux for a good PHP support and Windows for ASP, especially when it comes to hosting web sites that require the full use the advantages offered by PHP or ASP.

Linux offers a support for FrontPage extensions. Windows has a weak point in offering only limited CGI/Perl support, so if Perl is the scripting language of your choice, you should opt for Linux.

Databases

Dynamically driven web sites require some sort of databases. Beyond sites employing databases, most frequently you will encounter mySQL or MSAccess. If your web site is relying on mySQL, then you'll have no problems hosting it on either Windows or Linux. For MSAccess databases, look your only option is Windows.

Price

Linux web hosting is cheaper. The reason must be searched in licensing costs, that are lower that for Windows, and in the ability of Linux web servers to support a higher web sites per server ratio without compromising the quality of service.

Although Windows hosting cost a bit more, you will get something for your money. It's reduced development time and functionality

As the option of one over another depends basically of your actual needs and of the plans you have made for the future of your web site. For example will it move from a rather static web site to one relying heavily on server side scripting? And if it is so what would be the programming language used: PHP or ASP? Consequently your web site will be set up on a Linux or on a Windows web server.

Almost all serious web-hosting providers will offer you the choice between Linux and Windows.

There is no winner of this contest, at least not yet. In today's terms, your preference of one system over another should be given only by your requirements and the needs of your visitors.

Calin Indre is editor at HostPinPin (http://www.hostpinpin.com), a Cheap Web Hosting Directory Resource.

HostPinPin.com is a resource for webmasters and consumers looking to find a web hosting company. Providing web hosting articles, tips, web hosting reviews, compare web hosting plans and more.

This article may be reprinted or published without the authors consent as long as the "About" and "weblinks" are kept intact.

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